Ever wonder how the law adapts to technology that makes it harder or easier for police to search and seize suspected criminals? Orin Kerr posits that an Equilibrium-adjustment exists. "Courts respond to the new facts by trying to restore the old level of protection. If a new technology or practice increased government power, courts ratchet up Fourth Amendment...
20th Century Quotes on the Fourth Amendment
"The efforts of the courts and their officials to bring the guilty to punishment, praiseworthy as they are, are not to be aided by the sacrifice of those great principles established be years of endeavor and suffering which have resulted in their embodiment in the fundamental law of the land."
"In Adams v. New York, this court said that the 4th Amendment was intended to secure the citizen in person and property against unlawful invasion of the sanctity of his home by officers of the law, acting under legislative or judicial sanction. This protection is equally extended to the action of the government and officers of the law acting under it. To sanction such proceedings would be to affirm by judicial decision a manifest neglect, if not an open defiance, of the prohibitions of the Constitution, intended for the protection of the people against such unauthorized action."
"The point of the Fourth Amendment which often is not grasped by zealous officers is not that it denies law enforcement the support of the usual inferences which reasonable men draw from evidence. Its protection consists in requiring that those inferences be drawn by a neutral and detached magistrate, instead of being judged by the officer engaged in the often competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime. Any assumption that evidence sufficient to support a magistrate's disinterested determination to issue a search warrant will justify the officers in making a search without a warrant would reduce the Amendment to a nullity, and leave the people's homes secure only in the discretion of police officers. Crime, even in the privacy of one's own quarters, is, of course, of grave concern to society, and the law allows such crime to be reached on proper showing. The right of officers to thrust themselves into a home is also a grave concern, not only to the individual, but to a society which chooses to dwell in reasonable security and freedom from surveillance. When the right of privacy must reasonably yield to the right of search is, as a rule, to be decided by a judicial officer, not by a policeman or government enforcement agent.
There are exceptional circumstances in which, on balancing the need for effective law enforcement against the right of privacy, it may be contended that a magistrate's warrant for search may be dispensed with. But this is not such a case. No reason is offered for not obtaining a search warrant except the inconvenience to the officers and some slight delay necessary to prepare papers and present the evidence to a magistrate. These are never very convincing reasons and, in these circumstances, certainly are not enough to bypass the constitutional requirement. No suspect was fleeing or likely to take flight. The search was of permanent premises, not of a movable vehicle. No evidence or contraband was threatened with removal or destruction, except perhaps the fumes which we suppose in time will disappear. But they were not capable at any time of being reduced to possession for presentation to court. The evidence of their existence before the search was adequate and the testimony of the officers to that effect would not perish from the delay of getting a warrant.
If the officers in this case were excused from the constitutional duty of presenting their evidence to a magistrate, it is difficult to think of a case in which it should be required."
"In any event, we cannot forgive the requirements of the Fourth Amendment in the name of law enforcement. This is no formality that we require today, but a fundamental rule that has long been recognized as basic to the privacy of every home in America. ...it is not asking too much that officers be required to comply with the basic command of the Fourth Amendment before the innermost secrets of one's home or office are invaded. Few threats to liberty exist which are greater than that posed by the use of eavesdropping devices. Some may claim that, without the use of such devices, crime detection in certain areas may suffer some delays, since eavesdropping is quicker, easier, and more certain. However, techniques and practices may well be developed that will operate just as speedily and certainly and -- what is more important -- without attending illegality."
"For the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places. What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection. But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected."
"And, just as the state, in this initiative and more generally, threatens privacy, the market protects it. Consider the market institution of money. Money must be portable, durable, and limited in quantity but the value of money lies not only in what it can buy, but also in its protection of privacy. Under a barter regime, everyone I buy from knows what I produce, and everyone I sell to knows what I consume. In the cash economy, only my customers know what I produce and only those from whom I purchase know what I consume. That is why the black-market cash economies of the once-totalitarian regimes of Eastern Europe were synonymous with the bits and pieces of freedom that survived there."
"It ought to be abundantly clear that in America, with rare exception, government officials cannot constitutionally enter a home without either the resident's explicit approval or a valid search warrant issued by a judge who has good reason to issue it. Perhaps the inspectors of Kalamazoo believe that renters don't have the same rights as homeowners or that end-running the Constitution is all right if it's for a tenant's own good. That brings to mind a remark attributed to philosopher Henry David Thoreau more than a century ago: 'If I knew for certain that a man was coming to my home to do me good, I would run for my life.'"